Anyone worried that Elena Kagan is some kind of extreme liberal zealot can take comfort in the mini love-fest for the conservative Washington power-lawyer Miguel Estrada that broke out during her confirmation hearings this afternoon.
Estrada, part of the legal team that won George W. Bush the White House in the landmark Supreme Court case Bush v. Gore, was nominated by Bush in 2001 to become a judge on the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit. But after a two-year filibuster by Senate Democrats, he bowed out.
Despite their contrasting politics, Kagan and Estrada are friends. They met as students at Harvard Law, where they sat next to each other in every class during their first year. In response to questions from Republican Senator Lindsey Graham this afternoon about her relationship with Estrada, Kagan quipped that her friend took “extraordinary notes” during class, which was helpful if she missed anything.
In May, Estrada wrote a letter to senators in support of Kagan’s confirmation. Graham read from it and then asked Kagan if she felt the same way about Estrada. Her response was enthusiastic: “He’s qualified to sit as an appellate judge,” she said. “He’s qualified to sit as a Supreme Court justice.”
Graham declared that Kagan’s “stock just went way up with me.”